School, work, university – it’s all starting up again across the country after what feels like a long, rainy summer. Many of us have had to change our vacations into staycations and some of us may have managed to go abroad or visit loved ones.
And now we’re back; gearing up to get back into the swing of things but things just feel a little more grey at the moment (and it’s not just the sky outside making us feel that way…)
But why is that?
One might think that we’d be feeling refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated after taking a break but that’s not the case for everyone.
Post-holiday blues is a very real thing that many experience but it doesn’t seem to have been studied much so far.
Some researchers think it’s due to adrenaline (and other stress hormones) withdrawal that comes after big events like a trip abroad or say a summer wedding, or some other kind of summer party. Whilst joyful and fun, these events are also usually a little stressful – if not a bit thrill inducing – so the stress hormone withdrawal theory seems to make sense in this case.
But it’s not the full story..
Others think it comes from the contrast between ‘holiday life’ and the ‘reality’ of your day to day life. In scientific terms, this ‘contrast effect’ is just a type of negative bias that means your brain is adjusting to radically different experiences, which magnifies the difference between them. This effect could explain why the difference between lying in a hammock all day on holiday and sending emails all day now might feel vastly more depressing and boring than it actually is.
Good news: no need to worry, as this will pass as your brain begins to adjust to your normal life again.
But what if you’re thinking maybe it’s because your trip was actually that amazing and life changing? Maybe you haven’t actually felt that relaxed in forever? Then it can feel very counterintuitive going back to what might have been stressing you out and making you need that holiday in the first place…
It’s rough having this realisation about your life, especially when you realise you probably can’t be on holiday 24/7 the whole year around since you do actually have some responsibilities that supposedly have to come with adult life.
However, now might be a prime moment to reflect on the things in your life you can adjust so that the reality isn’t something to dread?
This might require some extra gratitude for what your ‘real life’ allows you to do (like take holidays!)
Or you could think of some ways to bring more joy into your daily routine, like taking up a new hobby or making more space in your calendar to see friends.
Whatever this looks like, know that you’re not alone and that the holiday blues tend to pass naturally in a few weeks. However, if you do feel like you’re struggling more than usual, don’t be afraid to reach out to loved one or seek some professional support.